• Shelley Boettcher

Finding a place in the family business

You're not always guaranteed a job just because your family owns a big business.

Just ask Rocio Osborne.

Her family owns the Spanish winery Bodegas Montecillo and Osborne, the sherry producer.

But when it came to applying for work, Rocio had to do it just like the rest of us; she sent in her CV to a headhunter, and went through every step of the interview process.

“We are not just allowed to work in the company. It’s a privilege,” she says.

“We are a very large family, 300 family members. You cannot have everyone in the business, or it would be chaotic, too much conflict.”

She was hired in 2006. These days, she’s the company’s PR and communications director, and she’s a master at sharing stories about life as a sixth-generation vintner.

Indeed, the Osborne family has been making world-famous sherry since 1772 and is still 100-per-cent family-owned.

When they decided to expand the business to include table wines, they bought the Montecillo winery in 1973. The family who then owned it didn’t have any children, so they opted to sell it to a Spanish family — the Osbornes — who could continue the traditions that they had started.

Montecillo is now almost 150 years old and is the third-oldest winery in Rioja. And it’s still going strong, making value-priced reds and splurge-worthy bottles for special occasions, too.

What does Rocio think about the Canadian market, compared to other markets she's in around the world?

Compared to European countries, Canadians have more exposure to New World wines from Argentina, Chile and the U.S., she notes. “Usually these wines are more fruit-forward and sweeter, different than the Old World,” she says.

Then there’s the screwcap issue. While Canadians don’t care much one way or another, “in Spain, we cannot even think of having a screwcap,” she says. “People would just hate it. They think it’s a cheap thing for wines and they are not used to it.”

Overall, too, people in Canada are more interested in learning about wines than in Spain.

“There, they don’t think there’s anything to learn because they have had wine at home since forever. It’s just something that you drink. They don’t even necessarily know what Tempranillo is,” she says with a laugh.

(Tempranillo, for those reading who may not know, is a grape. A famous Spanish grape used to make Spain’s famous Rioja wines.)

“Younger wine-drinking countries like Canada are more willing to learn about wine. You’re more adventurous.”

On the road all the time — China, Germany, New York, Canada — she does her best to taste local wines, wherever she is. “I’m really enjoying the white wines in Canada — some of the beautiful Niagara Rieslings, and also some sparkling wines from Nova Scotia,” she says.

“I love to try wine from all over the world. Every opportunity I have, I try something new.”

Also see: Our review of the Montecillo Crianza in Red Wines for Winter.

#Spain #Spanishwine #Tempranillo #Montecillo #Osborne #sherry #RocioOsborne